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Business trends

Japan to set rules to promote 'industrial big data' utilization

Government aims to prevent misuse of information obtained in production and R&D

Hopes are high that "industrial big data" gathered through production and development activities can generate innovative technologies and services, but rules to prevent its misuse are needed. (Photo by Masayuki Kozono)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government will work out rules aimed at promoting the flow of "industrial big data" gathered through products and services, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The rules will also be aimed at preventing the misuse and breach of such information to make it possible for companies to securely exchange it, the sources said.

The move, if huge amounts of data are brought together, can generate innovative technologies and services, they say.

Officials will start discussions on the new rules at a meeting of a government panel for promoting an innovation strategy chaired by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, which is expected to be held in July, the sources said.

The government will make a decision in the spring of 2021 on specific measures to be taken and will then seek to revise related laws and compile guidelines.

Industrial big data will be collected from sites engaged in manufacturing and development in the auto, industrial robot, medical care and bio, and other industries.

When it comes to the use of data available from websites and social media, four giants in U.S. information technology, or IT -- Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, collectively known as GAFA -- and a number of Chinese companies are ahead of their competitors.

But Japan is said to have a competitive advantage in the area of industrial data obtained physically.

Sharing industrial big data by many companies will make it easier to manufacture new products. For example, sharing driving data will speed up the development of self-driving cars and make it easier to come up with non-life insurance products reflecting risk analysis. If data on the novel coronavirus is shared without specifying or identifying patients, it can be used to prevent the spread of infections and produce new drugs.

Sharing of industrial big data has already begun on a trial basis at smart factories and urban development projects.

Participating companies, however, are concerned that the misuse of industrial big data could help their competitors develop similar products or that a leak of information on accidents could harm their reputations.

Such concerns could prevent industrial big data from spreading. Another worry is that industrial big data is often excluded from patent and copyright protection.

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